With his seemingly endless optimism and light-hearted satire, Weird Al Yankovic has a power that goes beyond innovative lyrics and catchy tunes: he makes people happy. But Weird Al Yankovic’s path to success hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Here are the weirdest moments in Weird Al’s journey from a nerdy, accordion-playing teen to the Prince of Parody…
Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic (/ˈjæŋkəvɪk/ YANG-kə-vik; born October 23, 1959) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, satirist, film producer, actor, voice actor, comedian, and author. He is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts, original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts, and polka medleys of several popular songs, featuring his favored instrument, the accordion.
Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he has sold more than 12 million albums (as of 2007), recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and performed more than 1,000 live shows. His works have earned him five Grammy Awards and a further eleven nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States. Yankovic’s first top ten Billboard album (Straight Outta Lynwood) and single (“White & Nerdy“) were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career. His latest album, Mandatory Fun (2014), became his first number-one album during its debut week.
Yankovic’s success comes in part from his effective use of music video to further parody popular culture, the song’s original artist, and the original music videos themselves, scene-for-scene in some cases. He directed later videos himself and went on to direct for other artists, including Ben Folds, Hanson, The Black Crowes, and The Presidents of the United States of America. With the decline of music television and the onset of social media, Yankovic used YouTube and other video sites to publish his videos; this strategy proved integral, helping to boost sales of his later albums, including Mandatory Fun. Yankovic has stated that he may forgo traditional albums in favor of timely releases of singles and EPs following on this success.
In addition to recording his albums, Yankovic wrote and starred in the film UHF (1989) and the television series The Weird Al Show (1997). He has also made guest appearances and performed voice acting roles on many television shows and video web content, in addition to starring in Al TV specials on MTV. He has also written two children’s books, When I Grow Up and My New Teacher and Me!